Pre-teen boys are kind of caught between two worlds – no longer young children, not quite past childhood. As such, finding appropriate gifts for the 9-12 age group can pose challenges. You don’t want them to feel babied, but you also don’t want to rush them into a phase of life for which they are not ready. This holiday season, we wanted to take the guesswork out of gifting, so we polled parents and experts for their input to ensure you hit the nail on the head with the perfect gift for the pre-teen boy in your life.
Without further ado, here are the 20 Best Toys and Gifts for Pre-Teen Boys this Holiday Season, According to Parents and Parenting Experts.
According to Time Magazine, “Researchers have documented a rise in mental health problems—such as anxiety and depression—among young people that has paralleled a decline in children’s opportunities to play.” Pre-teens experience great social, emotional, and cognitive benefits from gameplay, but it seems they also release stress and develop more balanced mental health.
Of course, tech is king, and many tweens could entertain themselves endlessly with video games on a Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite, but there are several wonderful analog games for this age group to help reduce the draw of screentime with just as many positive benefits. Totally Gross – The game of science plays into boy’s obsession with the scatological while helping them to better understand science, Kids Against Maturity is the tween-friendly version of Cards Against Humanity, a classic for older teens and adults. The Hearing Things Game is a live version of the popular “whisper challenge” videos from Youtube your tween can play with his friends. This 3-D globe puzzle is a great challenge to complete and when it’s done, serves as a way to learn more about geography.
As for STEM-related play opportunities, Gravitrax is an innovative marble run in which kids design-and-build their own race tracks and experiment with gravity, magnetism, and kinetics to propel their ball to the finish; and the Snap Circuit Arcade comes with 30 snap modules to complete over 200 electronic designs. Disgusting Science Kit allows kids to perform fun (and entertainingly gross) science experiments at home. With this Harry Potter Coding Kit, tweens build their own wand and program it to respond to specific motions (or “spells”) through introductory coding techniques.
LEGO anything continues to be highly sought after for this age group, and there are tons of sets geared toward whatever your tween’s specific interest might be. From Harry Potter to Marvel superheroes, Overwatch to Star Wars, even a cool Lego Make Your Own Movie Kit – there’s a LEGO kit to please every pre-teen.
Get them reading
At this age, kids are ready for lengthier chapter books with more complex plots, so take advantage and introduce them to some old classics and emerging trends. Our favorites for this age group are Harry Potter Illustrated Hardcover books, the Al Capone book series (a fun and popular historical fiction series for young readers), Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary and the Trapped in a Video Game series.
For the sporty ones
…Or even a tween that needs more incentive to get off the couch and move! This GlowCity LED Basketball keeps them playing hoops even after the sun starts to set. Skateboards are making a comeback, and are a great way to get around town while getting some exercise. Laser Tag is a perennial favorite, perfect for long afternoon battles to wear your pre-teen out.
Just for fun
Sometimes it’s nice to treat a tween, especially “the one who already has everything” to something novel and quirky. The Tortilla Blanket (which is also available as a pizza, waffle, and more) is a fun accessory for them to keep warm around the house, and the Relax Sack Memory Foam “beanbag” chair is a great addition to their room for playing video games comfortably or hosting buddies who come over. A Hand-operated drone will provide hours of entertainment and wonder as it becomes increasingly intelligent to sense objects and move away from them.
Honestly, many of these gift ideas sound fun for adults too – so don’t be afraid to jump in and play with your pre-teen for an even more enriching experience. With this list, thanks to the input from our parents and experts, you can go into the holidays knowing that no matter what you purchase, you’ll be making the tween in your life very happy (and maybe even more healthy)! Happy shopping!